Playing Cards

Using the Playing Cards

Players may each use their own set of playing cards to help them answer questions, or when instructed to by the Game Master. The following rules are applied when playing cards are required.

Key Terms

Playing cardsA standard 52-card deck
Main DeckCards not yet drawn
Discard PileLocation of the cards discarded
FieldLocation of the cards played
CombinationOne or more played cards of a particular order


1. Deck Setup

Before an encounter begins, each Player has:

  1. Acquired a standard 52-card deck
  2. Set aside the Joker cards in a separate pile*
  3. Setup their Action Book

*Some decks come with extra informational or promotional cards: these are excluded and are not used

2. Challenge Setup

Before an encounter begins, the Game Master:

  1. Determines which Players are involved in the encounter
  2. Determines the question(s) to ask the Players
  3. Determines the Challenge Ratings of each question

3. Turn Setup

When an encounter begins, the Game Master:

  1. Determines the Turn Limit, or how many turns Players have to overcome the challenge; this information may be shared
  2. Determines the First Turn, or who goes first
  3. Works with the Players to determine the order of the remaining turns
  4. The Player who currently has the turn is the Turn Player

4. First Draw

  1. At the beginning of each encounter, each Player draws 5 cards from their Main Deck


Playing the cards

In Turn Order, the Turn Player:

  1. Draws a card from the Main Deck
  2. Readies any exhausted Combinations
  3. May play 1 Normal Combination if able; else, skip this step
  4. May play any number of Special Combinations if able; else, skip this step
  5. May spend a Combination by exhausting it if able; else, skip to Step 7
  6. Pays for an Action with spent Combinations
  7. May go to Step 4 if able; else, skip this step
  8. Passes the turn

The Game Master may choose to follow these steps when it is the turn of a Non-Player Character.

Encounter Characteristics

Card Ratings

Each numbered playing card (2-10) has an assigned numerical rating depicted explicitly on the card. Face cards (Jack, Queen, King, Ace) do not have a rating.

Card Rankings

  • The ranking of the cards is: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.
  • The ranking of the suits is: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades.
  • The card number takes precedence over the suit.

Challenge Ratings

Each question has a Challenge Rating. A Challenge Rating represents the relative difficulty of a question in comparison to the Player Characters. Challenge Ratings are set by the Game Master and can be changed by Player Actions.

Each question type has a recommended base Challenge Rating.

Question typeBase Challenge Rating
Question I
Question II


Actions are things that the Players can have their Player Characters do during encounters. Actions help to overcome challenges by whittling down Challenge Ratings. It is beneficial for Players to combine Actions in order to achieve this. However, sometimes a single Action may be powerful enough to overcome a challenge on its own.

Action Ratings

Each action performed has an Action Rating. An Action Rating is determined by the Action itself. Acting Ratings generally decrease Challenge Ratings; however, there are instances where the wrong action can be detrimental and increase Challenge Ratings.

Failed Outcomes

A failed outcome is generally achieved by not meeting the minimum Challenge Rating with Action Ratings within the Turn Limit.

Successful Outcomes

A successful outcome is generally achieved by meeting or exceeding the Challenge Rating with Action Ratings within the Turn Limit.

Ending Encounters

  • When all challenges are resolved, the encounter comes to an end
  • Any exhausted Combinations are readied and remain on the field

Example: Can the Player climb a cliff?

  1. The Gamer Master and Player identify a question

    • Can the Player climb the cliff with their Player Character?
  2. The Game Master sets the Challenge Rating of the question, based on the Player Character

    • The Player Character has climbed cliffs before, and so the Game Master sets the Challenge Rating at a 4
    • However, the cliff is wet due to the weather, so the Game Master adds 2 to the Challenge Rating
    • This sets the total Challenge Rating of this question to 6
    • The Game Master may chose to make this rating known to the party
  3. The Player plays a Combination

    • They play a Pair of 3s
    • This grants them a Combination total of 6 to spend on actions
  4. The Player spends Combinations on the Climbing Prowess Action

    • They exhaust the Pair of 3s
    • They activate their Climbing Prowess Action from their Action Book
    • This brings their Combination total down to 0
  5. The Player uses his Climbing Prowess Action

    • This Action allows the Player’s character to weather weather conditions when climbing, adding 2 to this Action Rating
    • This Action grants a free climb action using the Action’s cost as the Action Rating, being 6
    • This Action’s total Action Rating is 8
  6. Compare and Resolve the Ratings

    • The Player’s Action has a total Action Rating of 8
    • The question has a Challenge Rating of 6
    • The Player has a higher rating than the Challenge Rating, and thus generates a successful outcome, or answer, to the question
    • The Game Master and Player may both describe the character climbing the cliff


The Main Deck represents a character’s stamina. As Players participate in the World, they expend their Player Characters–mentally, physically, and spiritually–and their Main Deck has fewer and fewer cards as they perform actions. When a Player runs out of cards in their Main Deck, their Player Character becomes exhausted, and gains the Exhausted condition. Exhaustion is a critical condition that Players will have to manage in order keep their characters alive.

Dealing with Exhaustion

Whenever a Player, or their Player Character:

  • Has zero cards in their Main Deck, their character becomes exhausted, and they gain the Exhausted condition
  • Draws a card from their empty Main Deck, their character becomes unconscious, and they gain the Unconscious condition
  • Gains the Unconscious condition, the Player shuffles their Discard Pile and sets it facedown
  • Draws a card from their empty Main Deck while their character is unconscious, they instead draw from their Discard Pile
    • If they draw
      • A black card, they gain 1 death Counter
      • A red card, they gain 1 life Counter
    • When a Player has
      • 3 death counters, their character dies
      • 3 life counters, their character revives
        • The Player shuffles all of their cards and it becomes their Main Deck